Confessions of a Frustrated Co-Dependent

WARNING: Confessions of a frustrated co-dependent. Things a child, no matter how old, should ever have to go through.

My mother told my sister last week, “Tell Teri to go to hell and I never want to see her again.” Obviously, intoxicated. This was a result of my discovering she was using a younger family member to drive her to the grocery (where there is a liquor store) and I informed that family member’s parent.

Two days ago she advised a family member she would be “drinking herself to death”. Same old story I’ve heard since I was a kid. Drunken slurs told to me as a child like, “Teri, this life does not matter. I want to be with Jesus. I just want to die. Death is beautiful. If you died I would celebrate. How lucky would that be.” A child. Being told by her mother that she would celebrate her child’s death.

I used to wake up and find my mother standing over me with a butcher knife in her hand. Her eyes would be lifeless. As if she was staring through me. I would cry as silently as possible so as not to startle her. My little sister always found her way into my bed and would wrap herself around me. It was a comfort for both of us.

Today I sit here furious. And bitter. And sad.

She is on another “I haven’t eaten in 3 days. I am no longer taking my medications. I am only going to drink until I die” missions.

I called 911 two days ago when she first threatened to kill herself as we cannot get into her secured building. She turned them away. Today I called her doctor and was advised to have the police accompany the paramedics as they will force her to go with them for a psych eval. Her building social worker called to tell me, that even though she had a “huge bottle of vodka” sitting next to her and a glass filled with it, the police left without taking her. And no paramedics were with them.

So I just printed off the “instructions for filing an emergency guardianship” paperwork. It states a physician must appear before the magistrate in a hearing to justify it is necessary to avoid immediate harm to the ward. I cannot get her to a hospital as she refuses transport.

She cannot live on her own, per her doctor’s own words, but I cannot force her to move until she’s no longer competent enough to make the choice. Apparently the police think she’s still competent enough to decide.

Therefore, we sit and wait. For our mother to sober herself up. Or die.

No child should EVER have to go through this hell.

I lost my mind on the social worker. I snapped. I cried. I screamed, “I’m fucking done. Let her die.”

I’ve reached out so many times for help. I just don’t know what to do anymore.

Mom, her books, and booze

This is the lady I grew up with. A bottle of alcohol always next to her. She would come home from work and pour a drink and sit down to read. I learned early on to lock myself in my room and put my headphones on and escape into my music. If I approached her, she would slur at me, “Can’t I just relax for five minutes? Just leave me alone!” Or, if I approached with happy news, “Mom! Look! I got a 93% on my test.” (A 93 was still an A back in the 70’s) Her response, “A 93? A 93? God gave you a brilliant mind, Teri. And you are wasting it. Why wasn’t it a 100%? You are disappointing God. And me.” And I would turn away, once again, belittled and shamed. Shamed for not being good enough.

She tried to drown me in a bathtub when I was 4, holding my head underwater. She told me I would be happier with Jesus. Until my dad came in and sucker-punched her across the bathroom. She landed between the toilet and cabinet.

She tried to kill my dad with a butcher knife. But, he lifted a chair in time in front of him as protection to have the blade completely penetrate the wood seat. I witnessed her hauled off in handcuffs on that occasion. I was 4 or 5.

She beat my sister relentlessly. She didn’t like her and made it clear. I got to listen to the screams from behind a locked bathroom door where I would hide for hours until it was quiet again.

She told me I was frumpy and ugly and used to show my 7th grade photo to people and laugh about how ugly I was. I had braces and a unibrow and yes, pretty hideous, but really?

When I was in my 20’s (after the bank robberies) I dressed conservatively for business. She would laugh and call me, “Margaret Thatcher” and advise me I needed to brighten myself up so people would think I was happy.

Yet, I have fought and fought and fought for this lady’s love and approval my entire life. All I wanted was for her to love me and accept me.

I know my life motto is #nevergiveup, but damn is this a tough battle to keep fighting. Please pray for strength and answers as we move forward with guardianship. And that I keep my cool and not explode in frustration again. I’m starting to reach the end of my rope with this one.

Thank you 💔

The Beauty of a Broken Heart

When interviewing a recent podcast guest, the subject of everyday heroes in a child’s life came up. And their powerful impact of helping build resilience in the lives of vulnerable children.

I had 4. My Grandma Kitty. My 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Corken. And my BFF’s parents, Mr. & Mrs. Tonnies.

Today I want to share a story about that teacher. I don’t remember her classroom. Or what she taught me in that classroom. But I do remember her caring about me, asking if I was okay when I would cry in school, holding my hand when we would walk the halls, and inviting me to sit on the front porch of her little white house on Wayside Avenue.

I would walk the 3 blocks, crossing a busy road (in the same crosswalk where I saw a girl get hit by a car and killed a few years later when I was 10 . . . golly, 10 was a rough year!), just to spend time with this gentle soul.

I can’t remember her face. But I remember her heart.

She gave me this ceramic Holly Hobbie heart as a gift. I can’t recall why. My birthday maybe?

It reads “Happiness is having someone to care for”.

She told me to keep my treasures in it. For years it held a hand-written note from her and a key to a small cedar box I kept other notes in. To this day I treasure hand-written notes.

My dad threw something at me in a fit of rage soon after I received my gift. I ducked and it missed me, but shattered my heart. The ceramic one. And in some ways my own.

I cried silently as I glued the pieces back together. Somehow the top piece remained intact. I think it landed on my pillow.

I pulled this out of my memory box today after being reminded of Mrs. Corken during my podcast conversation. So incredibly symbolic of my life.

Jaz told me during our interview that survivors are like Kintsugi bowls . . . their breaks are repaired with gold so the scars make them beautiful. I read upon researching Kintsugi that “your scars and imperfections are your beauty”.

My little ceramic heart, glued back together, yet missing a piece I never found after that violent outburst, represents the beauty of my healing journey. Broken, then mended. Scarred, yet beautiful.

As are we all 💜

A gift from Mrs. Corken – 2nd grade

The Healing Place Podcast: Ingrid Cockhren & Sue Fort White – Our Kids Center

Welcome to The Healing Place Podcast! I am your host, Teri Wellbrock. You can listen in on iTunes, Blubrry, Spotify, or directly on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com/podcasts/. You can also watch our insightful interview on YouTube.

I am ever so grateful for the opportunity to sit down with Ingrid Cockhren, ACEs Connection Midwest Regional Community Facilitator, and Sue Fort White, Executive Director of Our Kids, Inc. Thank you, Ingrid and Sue, for the incredible work you are both doing to help create a more trauma-informed world and helping those who are on the healing journey.

Bios:

Sue Fort White, Ed.D.

Our Kids Executive Director

For more than 30 years, Sue Fort White has mobilized resources for underserved populations, including victims of domestic violence, teens and families in crisis, children in foster care and families affected by child sexual abuse. Sue’s work at Our Kids starting in 2006 was a natural progression of her deep commitment to social justice and her desire to connect children and families with the services they need.

Sue is an experienced nonprofit and community leader with specialized skills in:

  • Fund development
  • Advocacy and ambassadorship
  • Program development and promotion
  • Coalition building
  • Strategic planning
  • Board development
  • Community outreach
  • Leadership development

Education and certifications

Awards

Ingrid Cockhren

ACEs Connection Midwest Regional Community Facilitator

As a survivor of childhood sexual abuse, Ingrid Cockhren knows first-hand how impactful trauma and toxic stress can be on children, families and communities. Subsequently, she has dedicated her professional life to investigating and educating the public about the link between early trauma, early adversity, Adverse Childhood experiences (ACEs) and possible negative outcomes across the lifespan.

Mrs. Cockhren graduated from Tennessee State University with a B.S. in Psychology and from Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College with a M.Ed. in Child Studies specializing in early interventions for children from minority and low-income families. Her research areas are African American parenting styles, Adverse Childhood Experiences, historical trauma and intergenerational transmission, brain development, developmental psychology and epigenetics. She is currently an adjunct professor specializing in developmental psychology at Tennessee State University and the TN & Midwest Regional Community Facilitator for ACEs Connection.

Mrs. Cockhren is also a member of leadership with ACE Nashville, a collective impact in Nashville, TN dedicated to the mitigation of ACEs in the Greater Nashville area. She is currently Chair of ACE Nashville’s Parent & Community Education Committee and serves as an advisor on both Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research’s Community Engaged Research Core Advisory Council and the Lloyd. C. Elam Mental Health Center’s Advisory Board. In addition, she is the creator and
moderator of The State of the Black Woman-Nashville. Ingrid’s experience and affiliations also include Metro Nashville’s Public Schools, Tennessee’s Dept. of Children’s Services, Tennessee’s Office of Child Safety, Meharry, Vanderbilt University’s Peabody Research Institute & Special Education Dept. and Youth Villages, Inc.

Ingrid Cockhren is a Clarksville, TN native who currently resides in Nashville, TN with husband Jurnell Cockhren, founder of Civic Hacker, a software development consulting agency. Ingrid loves painting, cooking and spending time with daughter Yves.

Find out more about these amazing women and their inspirational work at whatifitoldyou.com, ourkidscenter.com, and acesconnection.com.

Peace to you all!
Teri

Hope for Healing Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/9813e51db66b/hope-for-healing-newsletter-december-2018

Book Launch Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/unicornshadows/

The Healing Place Podcast: Jaz Ampaw-Farr – Everyday Hero

Welcome to The Healing Place Podcast! I am your host, Teri Wellbrock. You can listen in on iTunes, Blubrry, Spotify, or directly on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com/podcasts/. You can also watch our insightful interview on YouTube.

What an absolute joy it was to chat “across the pond” with the beautiful, hilarious, and inspirational Jaz Ampaw-Farr. From her TEDx talk to her international motivational presentations, she is empowering others along their healing journeys. Thank you, Jaz for helping leave this world a better place – from your Tampax donation in the school bathroom to your work in prisons to your ability to make us laugh – your enthusiasm is contagious.

I encourage you to grab your tissues and watch her 11 minute TEDx talk. I promise it will be worth it!

Bio:

“It would be easy to say, you’ve never met anyone like Jaz before. Her passion for the potential we can uncover in ourselves when we are just 2% braver and her insight into how to remove the barriers that hinder connection between us and those we seek to influence make Jaz one of those people you will never forget.

Jaz’s story is one of growing up in the midst of most appalling abuse, poverty and hardship during which she encountered five adults (and, importantly, one pimp) whose belief in her literally saved her life. She shares her fantastic journey of how saying yes first allowed her to progress from council estate and foster care to advising international governments on education policy.

There are many messages leaders take away from listening to Jaz deliver keynotes across the UK, in the US (where she’s being called ‘The British Oprah’!) and elsewhere. Clearly, the impact that we have to connect and transform lives comes through loud and clear but there is more to it than just that.

Jaz also embodies the idea of bravery and the willingness to be defined by what you’ve tried even if you fail, rather than by what you could have done. Both her (very) brief stint on TV’s The
Apprentice, more substantial skills as a presenter on BBC’s Hard Spell Abbey and her career as a stand up comedian are good examples of this. And she shows that a human being can be
subject to the worst depravities of her fellow humans and not only survive, but thrive – and do so without anger or bitterness.

It is true, we are more than our stories, and Jaz shares strategies and insights in her work with humour, energy, honesty and an unswerving optimism in people and in authentic connection in
particular. Full of practical advice, for leaders from all industries, including the corporate, health and education sectors, her message is neatly summed up in her own words to those five teachers from her past and the title of her best selling book – Because Of You – This Is Me.”

Find out more about Jaz’s inspirational work at https://jazampawfarr.com/

Her book is currently available for pre-order in the U.K. on Amazon and will be released May 31, 2019.

Peace to you all!
Teri

Hope for Healing Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/9813e51db66b/hope-for-healing-newsletter-december-2018

Book Launch Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/unicornshadows/

Coping Strategy: Write Letters of Forgiveness

I want to share one coping strategy a month. These are strategies I use (or have used) in my own life as I travel the healing journey. I hope they bring you tranquility, as well!


 WRITE LETTERS OF FORGIVENESS


Write letters of forgiveness to those who have hurt you. Then burn them. Set them free. Not for their sake, but for your own. Write a letter to God. To the universe. To fate. Whatever you feel has burdened you with something unbearable. Be honest in your letter. Release the emotions and, just like with the journaling, do not edit yourself. Let it flow. Free it! Free yourself!

The Healing Place Podcast: Jim Sporleder – Trauma-Informed Consulting & Paper Tigers

Welcome to The Healing Place Podcast! I am your host, Teri Wellbrock. You can listen in on iTunes, Blubrry, Spotify, or directly on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com/podcasts/. You can also watch our insightful interview on YouTube.

I am so very grateful to have had the opportunity to sit down with this compassionate soul whom I personally consider to be a trauma-informed guru in the trauma movement. Thank you, Jim Sporleder (I now know how to properly pronounce your name! Ha!) for all you have done and continue to do to spread awareness about the critical need of becoming trauma-informed individuals so as to meet the growing need in our schools and society.

Bio (per his website):

“Jim Sporleder retired in 2014 as Principal of Lincoln High School in Walla Walla, WA.  Under Jim’s leadership, Lincoln High School became a “Trauma Informed” school, gaining national attention due to a dramatic drop in out of school suspensions, increased graduation rates and the number of students going on to post-secondary education.   These dramatic changes at Lincoln caught the attention of Jamie Redford, who spent a year filming the documentary, Paper Tigers, which tells the Lincoln story.  The documentary was released at the May 2015 Seattle International Film Festival and received positive reviews.

Jim is currently working as a trauma-informed coach / consultant as well as a trainer with the Children’s Resilience Initiative, based in Walla Walla.  His travels as a consultant, keynote speaker, presenter and trainer have taken him all over the United States.

Jim is married, has three daughters and six granddaughters.  In his spare time, Jim enjoys fishing, hunting, but most of all spending time with family.”

Find out more about Jim’s inspirational work at https://jimsporlederconsulting.com/.

Peace to you all!
Teri

Hope for Healing Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/9813e51db66b/hope-for-healing-newsletter-december-2018

Book Launch Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/unicornshadows/

ACEs as Life & Death

* The following article is a guest piece written and shared per my request by recent podcast guest, Suzie Gruber. Thank you, Suzie, for sharing your insights, wisdom, and beautiful light with us!

ACEs as Life & Death
by Suzie Gruber, M.A., SEP

We tend to think about life as the basic functioning of our body.  Am I breathing?  Is my heart beating?  Can I see and hear?  But there’s another measure to life.  Am I fully alive?  Am I living my dream?  Am I following my heart?  Not my physical heart.  My emotional heart. Do I let myself do something for at least a little while everyday that I truly love, that makes my heart sing with joy.  Something that’s all mine.  For me more and more the answer to this last question is yes.  I intend to do something everyday that makes my heart sing.  My life certainly wasn’t always this way.  Until I was in my forties, I had no idea what an intention even was.  I lived by the seat of my pants, living the opposite of being fully alive, living in daily crisis and anxiety and feeling very dead on the inside.

What’s the opposite of being fully alive?  Being among the countless numbers of living dead.  Those of us who learned through Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) to shut down our hearts, stuff our feelings, stop following that brilliant orange butterfly, and instead swallow our words and desires.  ACEs lead us to grow up as a shell of our true selves.  Why? Because in order to stay alive back then, in order to survive, we had to mold ourselves to our caregivers’ desires in order to minimize rejection.  We developed a variety of survival strategies, ways we have of playing small and invisible in order to minimize harm and maximize connection with our caregivers. 

Fast forward and we carry these survival strategies into adulthood. Many of us procrastinate, self-sabotage, and relentlessly criticize ourselves.  Ask me how long I put off writing this blog post and how much I shamed myself for it.  Some of us overcommit, work until we drop, and overachieve.  It cuts both ways: we shut down and/or overdo it.  Many of us very much prefer to take care of other people before we even acknowledge, never mind attend to our own needs.  Sound familiar.

Isn’t that ironic?  The strategies that we developed to keep us alive in those difficult environments are killing us now.  We need to be visible and to speak up confidently in order to live authentically.

ACEs create what I call death by the double bind.  There’s how to be and how not to be rather than who we truly are.  We become living dead when survival strategies dominate and when as adults we continue to live as if we are still in those old environments.  This creates an internal conflict, a pull between how we learned to be to survive and who we truly are.  Here are some examples of these double binds.  This first one I struggle with constantly:  a) I learned not to speak up for myself back then and b) I love to write and I want to share my work with the world.  Or how about a) I learned to help other people first and b) I really need help in order to grow my business.  Or a) I learned to tolerate what other people did to me as a child and b) I need to speak up and have healthy boundaries in order to have healthy relationships.

These strategies are extremely persistent. Why?  Because inside us they are tied to our biological survival.  They literally kept us alive.  Think lizard brain.  Consequently, they don’t shift easily.  This is why it’s very unusual for those of us with ACEs to be able to just shift our mindset or use a behavioral strategy to truly overcome these double binds.  We might feel better briefly and I am all for that.  I have my own very full toolbox of cognitive and somatic tools that I can pull out even in the grocery store line. 

However, what if I told you there’s a way to really work with these old strategies, a way to get at the root of what’s driving them so that you can turn down their volume substantially?  I want to introduce you to the NeuroAffective Relational ModelTM (NARMTM), a top-down, cognitive and bottom-up, somatic approach to helping people recover from ACEs.  What I love about NARM is that it truly gets to the heart of the matter by helping us uncover what’s keeping us stuck right now in our lives, usually a type of double bind like I mentioned above.  We focus on the specifics of the internal conflict going on inside us rather than telling our ACEs stories yet again.  We can’t change the past but we can change our relationship to the past, see what’s unfinished and why on some level we are still caught in survival mode. 

I am here to tell you that whatever it was that happened to you, you already survived that.  I know because you are reading this blog post.  You are no longer trapped in that house, in that family and in that situation. What do you notice right now as you consider what I just said? Differentiating the past from the present is a significant part of healing from ACEs.

Dr. Laurence Heller, the creator of NARM frequently reminds us that what we fear most has already happened.  What many of us fear most is being rejected.  Consider for a moment that those of us with ACEs were rejected over and over in big and small ways by our family of origin, often on a daily basis.  We already survived that.  Can you let that reality in? There might be some emotion that comes along with this experience.  See if you can let it be here.

You can do the work necessary to live fully alive in spite of ACEs.  It takes persistence, a constant connection to the part of you that knows without a doubt that you can heal, that you no longer want to just survive among the living dead.  Sometimes it’s messy and even painful to resolve but from my perspective it’s totally worth it.  Feel that primal urge inside you to come alive and live authentically whatever that means to you.  Back then you had to compromise to survive. Now it’s time to fully live.

Want help with this?  Let’s talk.

Suzie Gruber, M.A., SEP., holds advanced degrees in chemistry & psychology   She spent 15 years in biotechnology before returning to her first love inspiring people to transform their lives.  A personal development coach living in Ashland, OR, Suzie also offers workshops and webinars designed to provide a trauma-informed lens through which service providers and leaders can better serve their clients and staff.  Additionally, Suzie is a training assistant and the Research Director for the NARM Training Institute.

The Healing Place Podcast: Karen Zilberstein – Parents Under Pressure

Welcome to The Healing Place Podcast! I am your host, Teri Wellbrock. You can listen in on iTunesBlubrry or directly on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com/podcasts/. You can also watch our insightful interview on YouTube. And I am excited to announce that you can now listen in to my hope-filled conversations with amazing guests on Spotify!

Thank you for listening in on this thought-provoking conversation with Karen Zilberstein, discussing her philosophies and work in the parenting arena. Thank you, Karen, for helping shine the light of hope into the lives of those who might be struggling in their parenting roles due to additional pressures and lack of resources. 

Bio: “Karen Zilberstein, LICSW, is a practicing psychotherapist and Clinical Director of the Northampton, MA chapter of A Home Within, a national nonprofit that provides pro bono psychotherapy for individuals who have experienced foster care. She has co-authored a children’s book entitled Calming Stormy Feelings: A Child’s Introduction to Psychotherapy and published numerous journal articles on child therapy, parenting interventions, the treatment of foster and adopted children, and the clinical implications of attachment and complex trauma in children.  In her latest book, Parents Under Pressure: Struggling to Raise Children in an Unequal America (Levellers Press, March 2019), she provides a candid look at how parents contending with poverty, trauma, disability, or other constraints are expected to do so much with so little—and the price they and society pay.” Find out more about Karen’s inspirational work at https://karenzilberstein.info/.

Karen Zilberstein, LICSW
Now available at: https://levellerspress.com/product/parents-under-pressure/

Peace to you all!
Teri

Hope for Healing Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/9813e51db66b/hope-for-healing-newsletter-december-2018

Book Launch Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/unicornshadows/

The Healing Place Podcast Interview: Jason Lee – Living with the Dragon

Welcome to The Healing Place Podcast! I am your host, Teri Wellbrock. You can listen in on iTunes, Blubrry or directly on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com/podcasts/. You can also watch our insightful interview on YouTube.

What a deeply engaging yet fun-filled conversation I enjoyed with Jason Lee, discussing his personal triumphs and passion to help others, particularly men, along their healing journey from anger to tranquility. Thank you, Jason, for sharing your inspirational mission and shining the light of hope.

Bio:

“Jason Lee is an author based out of Coquitlam BC. He’s also a mental health advocate and speaker at events across Canada. His book Living with the Dragon, Healing 15000 Days of Abuse and Shame has received praise from counselors and comes highly recommended as a resource particularly for men in recovery from depression, anxiety and anger stemmed from childhood abuse trauma and trauma. He’s also the host of the Mangry Podcast which aims to redefine how men manage their anger. The Mangry Podcast is on iTunes and Spotify.

Jason believes that everyone has a story to share and it’s a matter of finding that delicate space of trust and compassion to do that in. He found his voice through speaking, writing, podcasting and blogging, connecting people through inspirational words and ideas.

Jason enjoys basketball, exercising, camping, board games and spending time with his son.

Visit: ImJustJason.com to learn more.”

Find out more about Jason’s inspirational work at https://imjustjason.com/.

P.S. After we recorded our interview, Jason created his own podcast, Mangry: Redefining Men’s Anger. Be sure to check it out on Spotify and iTunes!

Peace to you all!
Teri

Hope for Healing Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/9813e51db66b/hope-for-healing-newsletter-december-2018

Book Launch Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/unicornshadows/

The Healing Place Podcast Interview: Dr. Leslie Cole – Quit Pain Pills

Welcome to The Healing Place Podcast! I am your host, Teri Wellbrock. You can listen in on iTunes, Blubrry or directly on my website at www.teriwellbrock.com/podcasts/. You can also watch our insightful interview on YouTube.

I very much enjoyed the opportunity to engage in a hope-filled conversation with Dr. Leslie Cole to discuss her work and philosophies in regards to opiate addiction and her hope-inspired book, Quit Pain Pills: Without the Withdrawal. Thank you, Dr. Leslie, for sharing your personal story regarding your food addiction and your work helping others along their healing journey from addiction to triumph.

Bio:

“Leslie Cole and her husband, Tim, are from Nashville, Tennessee. She is a physician specializing in addiction medicine and is the author of the new book “Quit Pain Pills without the Withdrawal. How to Break Free from Your Dependence and Finally Wake Up Feeling Normal.” She is very interested in the role that attention, hope, kindness, and safe community can play in the healing of people, having experienced healing herself. You can learn more about her book at www.quitpainpills.com where you can find her contact information.”

Find out more about Dr. Cole’s mission and work at https://quitpainpills.com/.

Peace to you all!
Teri

Hope for Healing Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/9813e51db66b/hope-for-healing-newsletter-december-2018

Book Launch Team: https://www.facebook.com/groups/unicornshadows/